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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2011-08-23 05:32
Subject: [awards] Hosting the Hugos
Security: Public
Tags:awards, conventions, family, friends, personal, reviews

My thoughts are still somewhat muddled by exhaustion, and the process of picking back up my real life, but I wanted to post a bit about my experience of co-hosting the Hugos with the mighty [info]kenscholes.

In a word, it was an awesome experience. Draining, difficult, amusing, wonderful, and many other suitably bipolar adjectives.

We’d been working on the script off and on for well over a month, interrupted by my liver resecting in mid-July. We had read-throughs and rehearsals Thursday and Saturday at Renovation. We had a magnificent tech crew supporting us across the board on site, with able leadership from Sharon Sbarsky and John Maizels. But when it came down to the moment, it was still me and Ken walking out on stage in front of 1,500 2,500 people and a handful of video cameras.

Things went wrong. Somehow we started on page two of the script. No one seemed to notice. Somehow we lost the last four pages of the script mid-show. (This included the entire Best Novel segment.) I scrambled on the dark stage during the clips of Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form to locate the missing pages, which I found in the pile of discarded pages from earlier in the show. Yet it all worked.

I know the scripting was obvious from the audience. I wish we could have done the whole thing more naturally, ad lib — that’s how I do my best work — but there were way too many details and checkpoints and hard cues to leave to a set of bullet points and our wit for two hours. Plus the need to coordinate between the two of us. When I hosted the World Fantasy Awards a few years ago, I worked without a script, but I was hosting solo with a ceremony where I only had to provide the main introduction, not manage the timings between award segements. (It’s a much less technical show than the Hugos.)

A real treat for me was that much of my family came to see the show, including my dad and (step)mom, my sister and her boyfriend, [info]the_child and her mother. Most of them had never been to a convention before, so they experienced Worldcon Saturday, then the Hugos. And dressed for the occasion, too. It’s the first time in my life I can recall seeing my dad in an aloha shirt, while my sister and [info]the_child were all steampunked out. Everyone looked very elegant, and it meant a lot to me that they were there.

I’ve also learned that while I’m emotionally bulletproof about bad reviews of my fiction, I’m only mildly bullet-resistant about bad reviews of my live performance. It’s an interesting distinction, doubly so because live performance is such a relatively small part of what I do.

This was so much fun. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Plus if I’m ever invited to host the Nebula awards, I’ll have made a trifecta of hosting the major awards in our field.

I want to thank Renovation, and especially Patty Wells and Sharon Sbarsky, for inviting Ken and I to do this. I want to thank John Maizels and the tech crew for making the show possible and making us look good. I want to thank [info]kenscholes for doing this with me. And most of all I want to thank everyone who attended, or watched remotely, for being part of the event.

It was a blast.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

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User: australian_joe
Date: 2011-08-23 14:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've watched most of it (and will return to view the rest) and I think most of the "things going wrong" were not visible to me on the video.

I've seen many award hostings done far worse, and off-hand I can't think of anything below "top pro" level that I thought was done better. A great job from both of you.

I had the consistent sense you were both enjoying yourselves, and that is contagious. (If it was staged I am doubly impressed. :) )
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Jay Lake: signs-commit_no-nuisance
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-23 14:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:signs-commit_no-nuisance
No, our sense of fun was definitely not staged!

And thank you. ;)
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Elizabeth Coleman
User: criada
Date: 2011-08-23 14:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I watched the Hugos with some friends of mine who are new to the convention scene. Afterwards, we ran into the_child, and when we parted ways, and I told my friends who she was, one of them said, "So that's why she had such awesome goggles: she's the daughter of the master of steampunk!"
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-23 14:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Cool!
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chris_gerrib
User: chris_gerrib
Date: 2011-08-23 14:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, it was my first time at the Hugo Awards, but from my seat it looked flawless. Yes, there were a few obvious scripted moments, but when you see Oscar-winning actors standing on a stage and squinting at a Teleprompter, how can I complain when a non-pro reads his notes?
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Twilight: WOW (Rogue)
User: twilight2000
Date: 2011-08-23 15:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:WOW (Rogue)
It was a BLAST from out here in the boonies too ;>
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Edward Greaves
User: temporus
Date: 2011-08-23 15:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay, watched the Ustream during the Hugos (and stayed up way too late to see the whole thing) I thought you and Ken did a great job. It seemed like you had a lot of fun.
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mlerules
User: mlerules
Date: 2011-08-23 16:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What an awesome thing to have done! I look fwd to checking out yr link so I can enter a time portal and watch it like a fly on the wall (which is what I figure it'll look like on after-the-fact streaming vid ;-)
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Kevin Standlee: Hugo Trophy
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2011-08-23 18:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Hugo Trophy
I was doing the play-by-play for the text-based CoverItLive coverage of the ceremony (not the same thing as the UStream live video) provided by TheHugoAwards.org. While I was mostly having to concentrate on whatever the next award was going to be (my co-host Mur Lafferty was doing the "color commentary," including commenting on your performances), I certainly enjoyed the show. I wasn't bothered by the scripting, and I certainly didn't realize that y'all had skipped/lost pages, because you covered it well. Congratulations on a job well done!
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2011-08-23 23:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I thought you and Ken did a great job. I enjoyed your performances.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-24 01:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you, sir.
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Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation
User: johno
Date: 2011-08-23 23:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Nothing was visibly wrong from our seat in the back of the house. Great show.

With a show that long and that complex, you have to be scripted in sections. But even if you are scripted, it's how well you present that counts. It flowed naturally, not ... one...word...at...a...time stilted reading.
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Rick Moen
User: rinolj
Date: 2011-08-25 00:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I learned a long time ago that the barely averted disasters and actual screw-ups look hideously obvious when you're staff of an SF convention but are seldom even noticed by the membership at large. Your misplaced script pages are a case in point: Nobody out in the hall even noticed the scrambling, the starting on page two, or any of the other wobbles that were obvious to you, Ken, and others behind the stage.

And, the most important point: You ran with it, even though you probably were a little panicked at times, but had the poise to let it not show. Well done, sir.
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